Ideas for the Party Human

Posts Tagged ‘mystery

     Though this party has some things in common with the Mystery Mansion Party, the activity format is based on the Capture-The-Flag Party posted earlier.

THEME:  Secret agents, international intelligence and espionagesecret agent

INVITATIONS:  If the guest list is very small, the invitations can be rather elaborate, imitating the “Mission:  Impossible” television show.  Inside a plain manila mailing envelope, you could include an audio-cassette tape giving the details of the party (“mission”), a photograph of the host and/or the party area, and a paper with the guest’s given character described in code.  You should also include the key to the code or at least a clue about how to decipher it.  (The two opposing teams could be CIA and KGB, or some similar organizations.)  The tape will not “self-destruct,” but you can request that the guest return it to you when  he or she arrives at the party.

            If the guest list is long enough to make the above invitations impractical, then a simple coded message would suffice.  Check out a book at your local library for descriptions of many different ways to encode a message.  Some ideas are:  Ciphers, such as the Civil War Cipher or an alphabet box; Braille; a scrambled message; invisible inks, etc.  Whatever you use, be sure to follow up in case a guest was unable to decipher the invitation!  This party is best for teen and young adults.

MATERIALS FOR ACTIVITIES:  Similar to the versions posted earlier:  Large area of varied terrain or a large building with several floors and many rooms; symbolic items such as secret papers or blueprints, secret (toy) weapons, etc.; any other props desired, such as rope, toy guns or other weapons, disguises, play money, walkie talkies, binoculars, listening devices, etc.; long table(s) and chairs.

FOOD:  The meal should be fairly high-class; perhaps you might serve some foreign delicacies.  Use your most elegant china and set the table as for an important banquet of state. 

DECORATIONS:  Whether the party is held indoors or outdoors, you will probably need nothing more than an elegant table setting.

 BLOW-BY-BLOW:         Follow the same format as in the variations posted earlier.  The conflict between the two teams might involve something like obtaining important secret papers or retrieving stolen blueprints.  At the end of the “game,” a treaty is signed, and the banquet is served.  Perhaps helpers in appropriate costumes might act as waiters and waitresses.


THEME:  Agatha Christie-style murder mystery house party (a live version of “Who Dunnit?”-type games, such as “Clue” or “Mr. Ree”)


Private Detective

INVITATIONS:  Invitations can be done several different ways.  You may want to create an ambience of mystery–use shapes or pictures like a magnifying glass, foot prints, finger prints, man in a hat and trench coat, candlestick, rope, various weapons, etc. on the invitations.  Include a character description for each guest.  Request that they come dressed as their characters.  If your guest list is small enough, include a “Plot thus far” to perk their interest and help them develop motives.  Or, you may want to give them the impression they are being invited to a formal house party and let the mystery game be a surprise.  Another option would be to use the “plot thus far” character setup and write each one a personal note from another appropriate character, begging him or her to come to this house party for some legitimate reason.  (This party description is for a private young people’s party of 8-15 guests.)

MATERIALS FOR ACTIVITIES:  Six to eight “weapons”:  rope, toy knife, toy revolver, lead pipe (perhaps plastic), bottle of poison (empty), candlestick, toy hatchet, or pillow; set of cards:  made from index cards or cut from cardstock, enough for each guest to have 10 cards (There are three types of cards:  1.  “Go To The_[room or outside area]__”; 2.  “Go To The__[room or outside area]_ And Take Someone With You”; 3. “The __[Weapon]_____ Murder Card!” [Put a picture of the weapon on the card.]  Make several of the first two types of cards for each of the rooms.  Make only one murder card per weapon.); music for dancing.

FOOD:  Assign guests to bring specified kinds of finger food (cookies, small cakes or pastries, hors d’oeuvres–the more elegant the better) to be served on trays in various rooms.  Serve punch in plastic goblets to look sophisticated. 

DECORATIONS:  Rooms: This may be decided according to the number of guests you will have.  Select five to ten rooms, if possible: Conservatory, Parlor, Kitchen, Study, Garage, Bathroom, Master Bedroom, Cloak Closet, Living Room, Attic, etc.  Put signs on the doors of these rooms or areas so the guests know where to go. 

            Decorate each room to look like a room in an elegant Victorian mansion as much as possible.  Use your imagination and go all out!  Perhaps you could borrow some antiques from friends.  Use lots of fabrics, lace and flowers (dried, fresh or silk).  Plenty of throw pillows for sofas and chairs are good.  Look at some magazines on Victorian decorating or on famous mansions.  Do what you can on your budget. 

            Try to create an atmosphere of mystery and suspense, like a set for a mystery movie.  Place weapons in appropriate rooms and lay them out in semi-plain sight.  Play eerie music throughout the rooms.  If possible, have a crackling fire in the fireplace.  If the weather is cooperative, you may also use outdoor areas as places for the guests to go, such as:  Garage, Gazebo, Bench Under Tree, Garden Gate, Pool, Terrace (patio), etc.  These areas should also be clearly marked with signs.

 BLOW-BY-BLOW:            When guests arrive, they introduce themselves as their respective characters and mingle until everyone is there.  Then everyone gathers together while you (the host/hostess) read the “Plot Thus Far” to establish motives among the guests for the murder(s) that will inevitably occur.  Explain where each room is and where the “weapons” are.  Shuffle the cards and deal them to the guests face down.  Each guest keeps his cards secret; he doesn’t look at them himself but puts them in a pocket or purse. 

            Instruct the players to look at only one card at a time and follow its instructions.  As they go from room to room according to their cards, they have the option to pick up any weapon from those rooms and conceal it in their clothes.  They should do this when no other guests are looking.  Guests are to stay in each room long enough to sample some refreshments or to speak to at least one other guest.  In conversation, if one guest says to another, “Have you noticed anything suspicious around here?”, then the other guest must reply by turning over one weapon he may have concealed.  The first guest is then in possession of that weapon.  The second guest does not need to reveal any other weapon he may have. 

            One guest has previously been designated as the Sleuth or Detective (Sherlock Holmes, Inspector Clousseau, Hercule Poirot, Mr. Ree, etc.).  He does not receive a set of cards.  His job is to flow from room to room in a specific order.  In each room he can choose to frisk one guest, confiscating his weapon(s) and returning it/them to the appropriate room(s).  All guests must cooperate with the Detective. 

            If a guest discovers a “MURDER WEAPON” card in his possession, he must find that weapon in its room or get it from another guest by asking the above question.  Once the weapon is in his possession and he has the “MURDER WEAPON” card, he plans his “murder.”  He may “do in” any character for whom he would have a motive for murder from the “plot thus far.”  To murder someone, he must be alone with that person in a room and show them his murder card and weapon.  The “victim” may or may not scream, but he must lie down and stay there until another guest finds him.  The murderer must leave the murder card and weapon on the “body” and depart to his next room.

            When the guests understand all the instructions, they can begin the game.  Helpers, such as younger brothers or sisters, dressed in servant costumes move from room to room serving the refreshments on the trays.  The party continues until a murder victim is discovered.  At this point, all the guests congregate in the Living Room and carry the “body” in; they lay the victim on the floor with a sheet over him.  As the guests mumble in shock over the “death,” the Detective must ask questions to decide “who dunnit”! 

            The Detective asks anyone any question he desires, except that the question “Did you murder so-and-so?” may only be asked three times.  If he can get it right on the first try he is considered a topnotch sleuth.  Each “innocent” guest must answer truthfully to all questions. The “murderer” can lie to any question except to the direct question “Did you do it?”, which he must answer honestly. 

            Following these rules, the investigation continues until the Detective discovers the murderer or uses up all three direct questions.  This part is made all the more fun and hilarious because the guests play their characters in as exaggerated a fashion as possible.  If the Detective fails to guess the true murderer, the “victim” may rise from the dead and point him out.  Now the game is over, and the guests may start a new round, if desired.  The victim may trade characters with the Detective for a change of pace.  The cards are again shuffled and dealt to the guests. 

            The game is played as many times as the guests desire.  Then, if there is still time, they may break for dancing and conversation. 

 Variations and Comments:  More then one murder may occur in one game.  It only makes for more fun and a little harder questioning by the Detective.

            It is very important for each player to follow all the rules; otherwise, problems may arise, and the game can get out of hand.  Everyone should stay in character and mingle with each other.

            This party was later expanded to include more than 50 youth in a large church activity.  In that large of a group, it isn’t practical to assign individual characters and have a “plot thus far” to give everyone motives.  However, this party has been given for a group somewhat in-between the two extremes in size, and more characters were assigned, with everything starting at the reading of the “will” of a wealthy man who had died.  The will mentioned each character in a way that gave him a motive for “murdering” some other character(s).  After the will-reading, they all adjourned to the house party, but this could be done in any number of ways.

            For larger groups, rather than give each guest his own set of cards, station a helper in each room with a stack of cards.  At the outset, give each guest two cards.  He follows the instructions on one card and keeps the other secret, so he will have somewhere to go in the event he receives a murder card in another room.  In each room he enters, the helper there gives him one card.  This continues until a murder victim is discovered.  (Of course, the helpers can give no hints as to the identity of the murderer.)  This alternate method of play insures that none of the guests can “cheat” by looking through all their cards at the beginning.

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